When one thinks of earthquakes in the United States, California is usually the main target. The San Andreas fault line is well-known for powerful quakes. There are others located within the United States that, although they haven’t caused severe seismic activity in the most recent century or two, could produce earthquakes resulting in severe damage. The New Madrid fault line in the mid-west, a fault line in South Carolina, and possibly most dangerously in terms of population, a fault line in New York City, are at risk for causing damage through earthquakes. The architecture at these locations is not as seismically designed as some architecture in California — where, in turn, the architecture is not as prepared for earthquakes as in Japan.
Damaging earthquakes in these regions of the United States other than along the San Andreas fault line are possible but not likely, so watch out for hype in the news media, an industry that is often quite happy to fan the flames of fear. Regardless of the probability, it might be worthwhile to develop an emergency plan so your finances have a better chance of surviving a disaster.
1. Have a passport. You never know when you’ll need to leave the country. In times of a national emergency, you may be able to leave without documentation, but having a passport will make this process easier at any time. My passport expired a few years ago, and I have the documentation to have a new one created. I’ve procrastinated setting up the appointment to have this process completed, but I don’t plan on waiting much longer. Receiving a passport can be a long process if you’re not interested in paying a fee for expedience.
2. Have a stash of cash at home. When financial advisers, professionals and amateurs, talk about emergency funds, they are usually referring to savings accounts at banks. There may be an emergency circumstance that prevents you from reaching this money in a timely manner. It might be helpful to keep a good amount of cash in your home, in an unlikely location to avoid the possibility of losing it during a robbery. Cash on hand is the first component of a comprehensive emergency fund.
3. Contact and account information for your insurance policies and bank accounts. You’ll want to have this information in a location you can easily grab if you have to run out the door, but not so convenient that it could fall into the wrong hands. Thinking ahead about the type of information you’ll need to have with you to survive a disaster as financially secure as you were before might lead you to the idea that it’s better to consolidate your financial accounts to keep it simple. This is my plan for the next few months. I’ve lost count of all my bank accounts, many of which I open to review for Consumerism Commentary. It’s time to consolidate and simplify.
4. Your wallet with ID and credit cards. You most likely have this already; make sure you grab it as you run out the door.
5. Keep gasoline in your car’s tank. In previous disasters, there have been problems getting gasoline. Gas stations run out, and people fleeing are sometimes forced to abandon their vehicles. Mass transit systems can break during the stress, as well. Having transportation ready to go in case of an emergency will help you get where ever you need to go.
What else do you need to ensure your finances will survive a disaster?